Welcome home salute to troops opens 18th Nanticoke Riverfest

By Lynn R. Parks

Landon Sockriter was pretty pleased with himself. He had just won first place in his age group in the youth fishing tournament, part of Saturday's Riverfest celebration in downtown Seaford.

"I caught three fish," he said, sitting at the city's floating pier at the foot of Pine Street. The largest, he said, was a catfish. Landon, 5, was attending Riverfest with his grandmother, Christine Sockriter of Seaford. That catfish that he caught was 7 inches long. In combination with the two white perch that he reeled in, he caught 15.25 inches of fish on Saturday morning, enough to give him the blue ribbon. Winner overall was 13-year-old Tyler Whitby, who caught a 17.25-inch catfish.

Christine Sockriter said that she and Landon attend Riverfest every year. On Saturday, she said, they planned to go home for the afternoon and then return for the evening's activities.

"It's a great festival," she said. "And this year is really nice because it's not very hot." This was the 18th year that the city of Seaford has welcomed people into its downtown, to get to know businesses that are there and to celebrate the Nanticoke River that flows nearby. The theme of this year's Riverfest was "Havin' a Ball on the Nanticoke."

The event officially got underway Thursday evening with opening ceremonies on the steps of city hall. City councilwoman Pat Jones offered an invocation, asking God to "be merciful and hold back the rain." In general, her prayer was answered – except for a short shower that rolled in around noon on Saturday.

Griffin Dunn, Seaford, sang the Star-Spangled Banner during the opening ceremonies. Mayor Bill Bennett recognized the National Guard's 1049th Transportation Company, based in Seaford, which returned to the United States in May after a 10-month deployment to Afghanistan.

He presented a plaque to company member Kevin Outten in "public appreciation of your wartime and peacetime service to our nation."

Following the opening ceremonies, the crowd enjoyed music by the Reminders, featuring local favorites Ed Shockley, Kevin Short and John Thompson.

Riverfest continued Friday evening with the annual Little and Junior Miss Riverfest pageants and music by the Bo Dickerson Band. Saturday's activities kicked off with the Vince Morris Memorial 5K run. Food and craft booths opened at 9 a.m. Cars in the Weaver Memorial Car Show lined both Market Street and Front Street going down the hill toward the Nanticoke River drawbridge, where a fire engine from the Blades Fire Company sprayed a stream of water into the air.

In the Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church parking lot on High Street, Hailey Dill, a recent graduate of Seaford High School, was in the dunking booth. Cody Stickroth, also a 2012 SHS grad, stood nearby, talking with her when she wasn't in the water.

Dill said that she volunteered to be in the dunking booth, which is spon-sored by the Nanticoke Rotary Club to raise money for its transitional housing. During her one-hour shift, she said, she was dunked about five times.

Stickroth said that he attends Riverfest every year. "I love it," he said. "You get to see your friends and neighbors, as well as a lot of new faces."

He added that he plans to join the U.S. Navy. Even then, he said, he will look forward to his hometown's annual festival. "I'll still try to come home for Riverfest," he said.

News tips wanted
Call us with ideas for news and features. We're always looking for good stories to share with readers. Call Bryant Richardson at 629-9788.